Bank employees to get part of wage arrears sans agreement

Public sector bank (PSB) employees are getting a salary hike even without a wage agreement as the managements have decided to credit 12 per cent of the salary dues into employees’ accounts as part payment even before signing a wage agreement.

The additional amount credited in employee accounts will come as a Diwali bonanza for PSB employees who are waiting for wage revision since November 2017.
"The employees can opt out or take the part arrear payments. If they take the part arrear, the amount credited will not be less than Rs50,000 and may even exceed Rs1,00,000," an IANS report quoted a PSB employee as saying.
While the move will help boost spending and spur the economy, it is doubtful if the employees accept the advance payment without a formal agreement.
This is perhaps for the first time bank employees are offered extra wages without an agreement.
"It's interesting to see the speed at which the management is working towards payment of part wage arrears, while the wage revision talks are moving at a snail's pace," he said.
If the employees accept the ad hoc payment, it will be a victory for the government as it would be counted as willingness to accept management terms.
PSB employees have been in negotiations with the United Forum for Bank Unions (UFBU) and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) since 2017. However, a wage agreement is nowhere in sight despite 30 rounds of talks.
The IBA had, on 1 October, written to heads of PSBs and private banks, which are part of the bipartite settlement, to pay ad hoc amount equivalent to a month's salary (basic pay dearness allowance) and adjust it during final payments after the wage settlement agreement.
The management has offered 12 per cent wage revision. Since the final percentage would not go below that, the banks had decided to calculate the wage arrears and pay, the banker said.
The UFBA, however, is not happy with the IBA move. In a letter to the IBA on 3 October, the employees body said, "The decision to pay the ad hoc amount is not just unfair, unilateral and arbitrary, but also a deliberate attempt to undermine the unions' role and their right of collective bargaining."
"Even though the negotiations commenced in May, 2017, only after a period of one year, that is in the discussions held in May, 2018, IBA made its first offer of 2%.A Thus one full year of negotiation was without any offer from IBA. This delay is also solely on the shoulders of the IBA and not the Unions," the UFBU said.
The UFBU also said this goodwill gesture was absent in payment of overtime wages/compensation to employees and officers, when they bore the brunt of demonetisation and suffered during the implementation of Jan Dhan Yojana. "Many Bank managements are still defaulters on this," it said.
"We have been insisting on an expedited settlement. Even now we are ready to conclude a reasonable and satisfactory settlement by mutual discussion," C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees' Association, told IANS.
"The last time the hike was 15 per cent. So far, the IBA has offered 12 per cent. They should improve their offer and conclude it at a satisfactory level," he said.